Address by President Cyril Ramaphosa on the occasion of the High-Level Segment for the Heads of State and Government during the UN Climate Change Conference 2023, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 1 December 2023
His Excellency António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations,
Your Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan,
President of COP28, Dr Sultan Al-Jaber,
Your Excellencies, Heads of State and Government,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
This World Climate Action Summit is taking place at a time when much of our world is in turmoil. South Africa is appalled at the cruel tragedy that is underway in Gaza.
The war against the innocent people of Palestine is a war crime that must be ended NOW. South Africa has referred this matter to the ICC and we urge the court to act speedily to save lives.
The people of Palestine must have their own state and finally live-in peace and security.
Yet, even as we are beset by numerous challenges, we cannot lose momentum in the fight against climate change.
African countries are among the most vulnerable to the effects of a rapidly changing climate and have to adapt and build resilience within the context of historically low levels of development and a severely limited capacity.
As South Africa, we applaud the landmark decision of COP28 to operationalise the new fund on Loss and Damage and welcome the pledges that have already been made.
If this Fund is to effectively support those countries most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, we need to mobilise funding on a far greater scale.
We must launch the work programme on national and international just transitions that involve all in society and encompass all areas of the economy.
What is decided at COP28 needs to be guided by science, equity and the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.
Climate action is key to South Africa’s sustainable development agenda.
The South African government has just approved the Implementation Plan for the country’s Just Energy Transition Investment Plan.
This plan focuses on areas critical to a just transition, including investment in electricity infrastructure, new energy vehicles, green hydrogen, skills development, municipal electricity distribution, and interventions directed at communities most affected by the energy transition.
South Africa has a successful renewable energy power producers programme that plays a key role in supporting our decarbonisation efforts.
There are also promising developments underway in our country to harness the potential of green hydrogen, and to beneficiate critical minerals and rare earths in support of development and driving the green transition.
Multilateralism must remain central to global climate action.
Unilateral, coercive and trade-distorting measures, such as carbon adjustment measures are detrimental to developing economies.
Innovative financing instruments, such as special drawing rights are needed to ensure that funding does not increase the debt burden of countries that are already struggling to service their debt.
There can be no substitute for new predictable at scale and appropriate public finance to help developing economy countries build climate resilience.
Access to finance, skills transfer and technology is key.
Climate change adaptation and mitigation technologies should be regarded as a global public good.
We need to support the right of each country to determine its own developmental trajectory and provide the necessary space to bring it to fruition.
Let us continue to work together in a spirit of solidarity and cooperation.
I thank you.
Issued by: The Presidency